Kidney problems can cause erectile dysfunction. This can occur due to various factors, such as poor blood supply, hormonal changes, nerve damage, or certain medications.

Kidney problems can affect a range of bodily functions, including sexual function. In people with kidney problems, erectile dysfunction (ED) can occur due to a combination of factors.

Treating the underlying cause and using ED treatments may help people to manage it.

This article examines the link between kidney problems and ED, along with symptoms and treatment options.

A person with lower back pain, which is a sign of kidney problems, related to ED.Share on Pinterest
F.J. Jimenez/Getty Images

ED is common in males with kidney problems. This may be due to poor kidney function affecting multiple systems in the body that affect erectile function, such as:

  • hormone balance
  • vascular health
  • energy levels

ED may be a side effect of certain medications for kidney disease. Dealing with chronic kidney problems may also cause mental health issues, which can affect erectile function.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are also common with kidney disease and can damage the nerves or blood vessels, which affects the blood supply to the penis.

Kidney problems can affect how well other organs and tissues in the body function.

Kidney disease may have an effect on hormone levels, circulation, and nerve function, impacting erectile function.

Certain medications and energy levels, as well as the emotional impact of coping with a chronic health problem, may also cause ED. Kidney problems can lead to a buildup of toxic waste, which may also affect sexual function.

Kidney disease and kidney failure can cause various physical problems that may impact sexual function.

They may also link to psychological issues, which can cause ED.

Blood vessel issues

Research has shown a link between kidney problems, blood vessel issues, and ED. Impaired blood flow to the penis may cause ED.

Kidney problems may cause narrowed blood vessels throughout the body, including those that supply blood to the penis.

Narrower blood vessels mean reduced blood flow to the penis, making it more difficult to get an erection. Age and diabetes may also contribute to narrower blood vessels.

In people with kidney problems, the blood vessels may leak out of the penis back into the rest of the body, which makes it more difficult to get or maintain an erection.

Hormone imbalances

Kidney problems can affect hormones. The kidneys help to regulate many hormones in the body by either metabolizing or getting rid of them.

Problems with the kidneys can cause changes in hormone levels that may contribute to ED, such as increased prolactin and low testosterone.

Nerve damage

Diabetes is a common cause of chronic kidney disease. Diabetes can also cause nerve damage, which may affect the nerves that connect to the penis, resulting in ED.

Kidney disease may also lead to high levels of waste products in the blood, which can affect how the autonomic nervous system functions. There may be a link between autonomic nerve damage and ED.


People with kidney problems may experience fatigue due to anemia, lack of dialysis, dealing with a chronic health condition, or co-occurring conditions such as heart disease.

Fatigue and tiredness may impact sexual performance and erectile function.

Psychological issues

People with kidney disease or kidney failure may experience a range of emotions when dealing with their condition. Having a chronic health condition can make people feel anxious, worried, or depressed.

Feeling these emotions may result in lower energy levels and a loss of interest in activities that a person previously enjoyed, such as sex.

ED may also make people feel a range of emotions, such as guilt, embarrassment, or fear, that make them avoid sexual situations. Emotional issues can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction.

People with ED have persistent difficulty getting or keeping an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse.

ED may also cause emotional problems, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression. ED can also cause distress to a person and their partner.

Symptoms of kidney disease include:

According to the American Kidney Fund, there are no specific medications to treat kidney disease, but doctors may prescribe medications to treat co-existing health problems.

Such medications may include insulin, blood-pressure-lowering medications, statins, supplements, and more.

Some of these medications may affect erectile function.

Can kidney disease medications cause ED?

Controlling blood pressure is a common treatment for many people with kidney disease. Many medications to treat high blood pressure may also cause ED, including:

Other medications that may link to ED include:

Can you mix ED and kidney disease medications?

If people take nitrates for a heart condition, they will need to avoid taking PDE5 inhibitors for ED.

Taking alpha-blockers to treat high blood pressure or another condition, alongside ED medications tadalafil or vardenafil, may cause abnormally low blood pressure.

People will need to let a doctor know all the medications and supplements they are taking to check that there are no dangerous interactions.

Treating the underlying kidney problems may help to resolve ED if kidney problems are the sole cause.

Some treatments for kidney disease include:

  • eating a healthy diet
  • getting regular physical activity
  • avoiding smoking
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • getting enough quality sleep
  • managing stress
  • taking any medications as a doctor prescribes
  • dialysis
  • kidney transplant

Other treatments for ED include:

This section answers some common questions about kidney problems and ED.

Can you take Viagra if you have kidney disease?

Viagra may be suitable for people with kidney disease. Viagra can cause low blood pressure, so people with heart disease will need to check with a doctor whether they are safe to use it.

According to a 2018 case study, people with kidney disease may need to take extra caution when using Viagra and avoid overdosing. An overdose may lead to severe kidney damage.

Drinking plenty of fluids when taking Viagra may help protect the kidneys. People will also need to avoid all nitrate medications when taking Viagra.

Does kidney disease affect testosterone?

According to a 2017 article, testosterone deficiency is common in people with kidney disease.

Low testosterone levels can affect many factors that support healthy erectile function, as well as reducing sex drive.

Can a kidney transplant improve erectile dysfunction?

Research suggests that kidney transplants may improve ED, but the condition can continue despite a successful transplant. A kidney transplant may reduce rates of ED from 75% to 59% in people with kidney disease.

People may need additional treatment for underlying factors that may be causing ED, such as:

  • abnormal hormone levels
  • waste products in the blood
  • vascular problems affecting the penis
  • the use of immunosuppressive drugs
  • mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression
  • other health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure

Kidney disease can cause ED due to changes in hormone levels, damage to nerves or blood vessels, or waste products in the blood. Mental health issues and certain medications may also cause ED.

Medications, hormone therapy, or surgical implants may help treat ED. Managing kidney disease and any co-existing health problems can also help.